Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Combat vs. Subtlety, the age-old Rogue question

This will be a continuing post, so keep an eye out for updates.

Currently, I have three rogues. 56 UD, 42 Human, 17 Orc.

My first two rogues, I began as most others do, with a pair of daggers, building up all my ambush/BS, etc. skills. My human was the first, and I discovered early on that in pvp, I was quite weak. I rarely won an even match, and often lost against lower levels. Of course, I attribute a high percentage of the blame to my own lack of experience playing a rogue, and not knowing the tricks I needed to survive.

I started Psyae the same way. And fared slightly better. Then, when I hit about level 31, someone suggested that I switch to maces. Now, I had heard of rogues using swords exclusively, but maces??? That, I thought to myself, would be insane. Well, perhaps boredom hit me, because I set out to find the best mace I could (which I'm still using at lvl 56!), the Bonesnapper, and another mace to see what would happen. Thus far, I'm thoroughly satisfied. Of course, I had to respec, but no biggie. Now, in duels, the only ones who can really beat me at my level are Shamans and Hunters, but not many of those. Well, and one rogue friend of mine, when he gets lucky.

I will eventually add to this post some MATH! That's right, for those of us anal twits who need to see the raw numbers of the differences between certain builds, I am going to do my homework, and research what's out there in all the myriad fora to find the ultimate data on whether getting dagger spec will actually increase your damage over the course of a decade by as much as .03% Impressive! Actually, I do like the math stuff, but I will iterate what many have told me, and I thoroughly believe: unless you are a POWERGAMER, and must have the ultimate best of everything (which means you play 10+ hours daily, and 48 hours on the weekend), then find a STYLE that you like, and build your character around it. (this actually goes for all classes). Otherwise, regardless of the perfect talent build you found and implemented, you won't actually see those numbers go up because you and your character are not in synch! Odd concept? Not really. Example: Let's say you exclusively play rogues, and your buddy lets you play his epic armored, perfectly specced MAGE for a few BG rounds. Guaranteed you get your arse kicked. But wait... you have everything perfect! Nah... "perfect" is relative. Start with YOU and what you enjoy, then go from there.

That being said, let's talk about the advantages and disadvantages of the two most common rogue builds, combat and subtlety. I'll start a list, then comment on some of the entries in the list, and I'll come back and add to the list later.

Combat Pros
(earlier levels = 0-58ish)
-more damage at earlier levels
-less costly at earlier levels (instead of having to skill up every time in BS, ambush, and a myriad of other skills, you pretty much pick SS and Evis)
-better weapons at earlier levels
-more unique (how many rogues do you see running around with two HUGE hammers?)
-swords, maces, and daggers are all good (you can main hand a sword or mace, and offhand a dagger, or many other combos; subtlety rogues tend only to use daggers or dagger/sword)

Combat Cons
-high damage, but slow to hit (i.e., don't miss!)
-no/low lead-in damage (i.e., most combat rogues go for CS, which doesn't do any damage at first, but gives you 2 CP; this gives classes like the mage, that can blink, a distinct advantage even if you hit first; whereas the subtlety rogue does an insane amount of damage up front. if you're doing combat, you must have patience, and deal with the fact that you don't really show your stuff till you get a 5CP Evis)
-lack of end-game weapons? (I'll get back to you on this, but there are some nice maces/swords out there)
-sucky 7th tier talent

Subtlety Pros
-more stealthiness earlier on = easier questing, easier soloing, and pvp survivability
-imp sap, anyone?
-with new patches, many more end-game daggers do nice damage and have some awesome attributes

Subtlety Cons
-if you miss your opening, or don't get another opportunity to BS/ambush in a fight, your overall damage is reduced significantly
-many more keys/macros/combos, etc. to keep track of. (if you're clumsy at the keyboard (like me), you might have a tough time dancing all about like a subtlety rogue needs to; however, practice makes perfect)
-spelling "subtlety" quickly while in combat

more soon!

Now, you may ask, why in hells did you make another rogue after Psyae? Good question. It's because I want one of each. I'm greedy. I started my new Orc rogue out with daggers, but it was taking SO long to kill stuff, that I grabbed the first sword, and finally mace that I could. I think ultimately my Orc rogue will end up being my combat rogue, and Psyae will respec to Subtlety. The fact is, from my experience, it seems much easier to solo pve (and kick some quite surprised butt in pvp) with a combat/mace build until you get to about lvl 57, where you can finally start collecting all your sets and epic gear and whatnot, that I just don't have the time or effort to do. Also, it'll be a great opportunity for me to enhance this post, actually having both builds simultaneously.


Anonymous tomas said...

wow - that was fast ;) - I ran into a lot of the same issues you mentioned when I first started PvPing my rogue. Since I was used to using the 'pet-tank'/'kite' manuver that works with hunters - it was hard to get used to getting in close and working the knives with the rogue.

It's taken a while - but I'm getting better. The low armor makes it tough to maintain a toe-to-toe fight for any length of time - but the right combination of crits, fast hits, and the odd ambush or backstab can really make a difference.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005 6:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Jedix said...

Well, Since day one of my Rogue, I've been spoiled with daggers, so I'm pretty biased. With that being said, I'm completely sold on the fact that combat is positively the BEST PvE build. When I was combat though, I felt rather gimp in PvP.
I could easily take most melee classes, especially with Riposte, but casters gave me trouble.

I'm rather in love with the lucky crits of the Seal Fate build (30/8/13), which can easily turn a fight around. Paired with Imp Ambush and Imp Backstab, I hardly suffer a lack of Combo Points.

In my opinion, Investing more than 22 points in Subtlety is a waste. Preparation is a GODSEND, and I often miss it. 21/8/22 is by far the best build for survivability. Setup seems nice, but it seems too situational, and I'm a huge fan of being versitile.


Tuesday, August 16, 2005 8:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Jedix said...

Oh by the way, If the comment about the rogue friend that could beat you if they get "lucky" was to me, Its because We never have stealth duels lol.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005 8:17:00 PM  
Blogger Psyae said...

Heh, Jedix, I know, I know.

Anyway, I do plan on discussing the Assassination build and other combinations.

Actually, you could say that I'm not really 100% combat, anyway, with my current build: 21/23/0 (3 unspent). It's much more balanced than a pure combat build. I believe it's working well for me, and it's fun because it's so unique.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005 6:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Billtrollo said...

Well, all of the above seems very well thought out. Too bad I own you when it comes to duels. :P But maybe I'm just lucky, like your friend Jedix. Any way, nice page and I didn't know you paid so much attention to your preformance.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005 7:35:00 AM  
Blogger Psyae said...

Just because I let you win here and there (when you're three levels above me), doesn't mean you should brag.


Wednesday, August 17, 2005 8:06:00 AM  
Blogger Psyae said...

Actually, Bill, I believe my next tactical post should be about rogues vs. mages, but before I start it, I'd like to do some extensive experimentation while dueling you. Since we're now the same level, and fairly high, this would be a great opportunity to try some tactics and tricks, and to see if I can actually beat you. :)

I believe one of my problems is what I addressed in this post--that I'm a combat rogue, and don't really use ambush/bs. Therefore, it takes a while for me to get a good deal of damage in. I've found that while fighting mages, if you don't kill them fairly quickly, you'll be sheeped, burned, blasted, and dead before you know it. Plus, with BLINK (NERF MAGES!), my CS is virtually useless unless I decide to blow a vanish early on (I usually like to save it for later), and try to CS twice in a row (which, actually, would be nice, considering I get 2CP per CS, which would nearly max my CP, then I could cold blood 5CP Evis).

OH, I meant to post this this morning, but forgot, but I'll put up a screenshot tonight. Last night, I got a 1599 5CP Evis crit. Not bad for me. I believe that's my highest so far.

How many HP do you have, Bill?

Let's duel tonight, eh? I should be on at 7pm EST.

[What is this, a message board!!?!??]

If anyone else wants to practice in game (and, of course, on my server, Nathrezim), feel free to send me a whisper in game, and we'll set it up. If you want to come watch Bill kick my butt, I'll post where we'll be dueling (if, of course, he agrees).

Oh, also, if you want to help us kill Araj (in WPL), I'm going to finally try to get that done tonight.

Anyone up for Sunken Temple group on the weekend?

[Apparently it is a message board...]

Wednesday, August 17, 2005 8:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do agree with most of this. I still love subtlety. The thing about the opening move(Ambush,Bs, etc) is true but we have Vanish. Preperation. To redeem our selves.

Sunday, November 19, 2006 5:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hum. why not give the old cookie cutter build a try. Cold blood and seal fate.

once you learn how oo dance around,apply your cheap shots then bs, and gouge ect. u can really lay the damage on fast.

Imo combat is not so good for pvp. good on mages tho. if uget imp sprint and kick.

Thursday, December 14, 2006 3:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heh, should really update for TBC...
i currently play a lvl 70 undead rogue on Crushridge (woot)i started life as a combat twink (mages are easy with the trinket and imp sprint!) ive tried combat maces and owned warriors...damn you Obliv! mut is trash imho for pvp any way and im currently rocking the 31/2/28 build...best pvp build in the game although i haven't tried shadow step as of yet...


Monday, May 14, 2007 4:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I played a combat and assassination rogue prior to 40 or so, and had a lot of fun. I switched to Subtlety when Cloak of Shadows was added as a talent (although it was later given to all rogues). I would never switch back.

Here's why -- at 70, yes, I do a little less damage than some combat/ass builds in PVE. This makes killing plate or mail a bit harder, but other than that, if you like PVP, you'll love Subtlety. Everyone else dies a lot faster (1-2 shot clothies typically, leather users/other rogues/druids as cats), as Ambush/BS drop people in a hurry. The extra 15% agility and 10% attack power is a godsend. Shadowstep is amazing for hopping behind enemy lines or up cliffs and dropping people fast, and stacks even more damage to your Ambush. It's also really nice having a faster stealth cooldown, faster movement in stealth, a quicker blind cooldown, a quicker vanish cooldown, less likely to be detected in stealth, and of course, preparation (in case you don't "get away" after a snipe). Here's how I play in AV, with my mostly green 70 gear and a few PVP items:
1) Walk at the front of our offensive line, looking for targets.
2) Tab until I see someone at half-3/4 health, someone healing, bandaging, killing a friend, etc.
3) Premeditation, Shadowstep, Ambush, Backstab, Evic. This takes a matter of a second or two. You will rack up so many killing blows and finish off so many otherwise 'would survive to see another day' targets you'll wonder how you ever stuck with Combat or Assassination for PVP. If there are tons of other people around, no problem! You've often got 2 vanishes, 2 sprints, 2 evasions, and an improved stealth to help you get away.

I should make some PVP videos to show how fun Subtlety can be. It's really a different game playing a Rogue like this. I usually am in the top 3 for kills, with 0 or 1 deaths in AV. I almost always get my target and get away unscathed.

What a subtlety rogue SUCKS for is 1-on-1 combat with Warriors and Feral druids. Everything else is cake. Again, this is PVP I'm talking about. PVE, you won't hit as hard or as many targets, but your high attack power and extremely high crit chance w/ ambush/backstab will result in some amazing DPS.

Saturday, September 29, 2007 2:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In addition to the above, I should mention that the reason I switched for Cloak of Shadows was because I found that I would often get spotted and dotted by mages/hunters/warlocks/priests with any other build. Often times in battlegrounds, you're fighting against many people at a time. Since Rogues are so fragile, it's best to just kill your target and be gone. This is why stun-locking works so well against one person but when there's a few buddies around you'll probably die, even if you get your target. I didn't enjoy death, and found that a primarily sub build helps minimize the death count.

Saturday, September 29, 2007 2:36:00 AM  
Blogger Hassan said...

the best most fun is sublety. and in later lvls it can kill the fastest and produce same amount of dps as the others. you just gotta learn to play w/ shadow step, shadow dance___in groups specced right you can ambush 4x with improved crits that gives +50% crits. dont know much but i like it. and it saves the most energy by reducing energy costs on key rogue abilities. requires the most thinking but if done right its insanely effective

Tuesday, August 25, 2009 3:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love my Sub Rogue as I seem to be one of the only Sub Rogues around (as I am often told) However I will have to admit it can be a little upsetting not being able to finish off well geared toons. Prep>Shadow Step>Ambush>Evis works well sometimes however up against a well geared foe this will equate to minimal damage when using daggers. Especially when going up against plate armors such as Pallies and Warriors. Toons that can heal themselves or bubble themselves have an excellent chance of beeting you as they have prolonged the battle while you have pretty much exhuasted your most powerfull moves. Sometimes your put in a delima. Do you try an control the battle with >Shadowstep>Stun>Backstab>Kidney Shot>Shadow Dance>Stun>Backstab or do you go for the high damage. I love Sub but I realize its best for BG play when an enemy needs to be finished off. Sub Rogue is great coming in for the kill. However one on one trying to guard towers in AV solo. Probally not always the best idea.

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